My Favourite Moment from Wrestlemania 32

So now that the dust has settled from my trip , I’m beginning to think what my favourite moment from Wrestlemania weekend was. Whilst the Shinsuke Nakamura/Sami Zayn match was incredible and the Shane McMahon dive off the cage was breathtaking, the most iconic moment is rather not a return, or a match, but instead a change in direction for an important group of roster members.


First some history. WWE – in a way to avoid athletic laws – has always tried to distance itself from being professional wrestling. As such, it calls itself “Sports Entertainment”, and it’s wrestlers “Superstars”. It’s a way to brand it to be different, and they are very very careful about how they brand them.

However, their women’s division, which began again in around 1998 after a break of a few years, has been referred to in a different name for the last few years: “Divas”. Although it’s branded as such, it’s generally seen as a bit of a derogatory term, as generally unless you’re Mariah Carey, nobody wants to be called a “Diva”.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only thing that has held back women’s wrestling, as the hiring policy has seemed to value looks over athletic talent. Wrestlemania – the pinnacle of the pro-wrestling world, has generally seen the “Divas” compete in poor, nothing matches, usually seeing the #1 contender be whoever posed in Playboy for their “Wrestlemania Special”. That is when the “Divas” title had been defended. Often there has been matches, usually involving Z-List celebrities, or battle royales which lead to nothing and generally terrible and throwaways. Although the company has referred to these matches as “Divas matches”, the colloquial term amongst the fans due to the fact these matches are often placed between two other more marquee matches has been to refer to these matches as “The Piss Break”.

However, whilst glorified models had been stinking up the main roster, NXT saw something grow – really good women’s wrestling. True athletes were given time on shows to wrestle great matches. Lead by Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and Bayley, women’s wrestling became the highlight of these shows.


Although talent such as AJ Lee, Emma, Natalya & Paige existed on the main roster, it was often in throwaway matches and occasionally at the expense of less talented women. It came to a head on February 23rd, 2015, where Paige and Emma took on The Bella Twins in a match that lasted under 30 seconds. In a three hour show. This came after a match on NXT a few days earlier where Sasha Banks took on one of Indie Wrestling’s top female stars Leva Bates’ non-Cosplay character “Blue Pants” in a feature match on the card, and the fans finally snapped. Shortly after #GiveDivasAChance trended on Twitter, and WWE had to act.

It was a stop/start push. There was a half decent tag match at Wrestlemania 31, and Paige had some good matches with the rapidly improving Bella Twins and Alicia Fox, but it came to a head on July 13th of RAW when Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks debuted on the main roster. Whilst well received, the WWE saw fit to rebrand this as a “Divas Revolution”, and whilst matches received more focus, nothing really changes – the matches were still not hugely focussed, and they were still Divas, competing for a title that looked like a bad tattoo from a drunken weekend in Ibiza.

This all changed in the Royal Rumble at the beginning of the year, when Charlotte and Becky Lynch had one of the strongest matches on the card. This match – that saw Charlotte retain the Divas title in an absolute clinic, saw the return of Sasha Banks (who had been booked impeccably since her debut), and the venue came unglued.


It was a validation to three quarters of the four horsemen, and they were put into a marquee match at Wrestlemania 32 in Dallas. The three women wrestlers were put on the front cover of the programme, with a genuine storyline (that isn’t built on who was sleeping with who, but on respect and wanting to be the best in the world), and generally given a huge opportunity.

And boy, it was a marquee match.

All three got special entrances, Lynch got a steampunk entrance which fit her character, Sasha Banks got her cousin (Snoop Dogg) rapping her to the ring, and Snoop Dogg was referred to as Banks’ cousin, not the other way around. And Charlotte was given fireworks, a robe that borrowed heavily from her daddy, and looked majestic and every bit a star. They were all stars, and had an incredible match that became only the second women’s match in WWE history that lasted over 10 minutes (the other one? The women’s match approximately 90 minutes earlier on the pre-show of Wresltemania 32). After 16 minutes of probably the best match on the card, Charlotte beat Becky Lynch to become the first ever WWE Women’s Champion.

Yes, they dropped the “Divas” moniker which pidgeonholed female athletes. As I’m writing this we’re on the way to WWE Extreme Rules (one of the next big show after Wrestlemania), there are two genuine feuds, and one main evented the lead in Raw to the Pay Per View. There isn’t just one shoehorned in.

So, the moment for me for Wrestlemania is that women’s wrestling is something to be proud of. Sure it will have a few bumps down the road, but how WWE has handles the closing of the “Diva’s Revolution” and the beginning of the “Women’s Wrestling Era”, has been absolutely superb.

I’ll end with this tweet from Max Landis. Showing why it matters to millions of fans around the world.

Understanding Undertale’s Importance

2015 was a year with some huge titles released. Big games with bigger budgets and bigger than last year’s numbers on the end, these games were announced at big press conferences, and rightly dominated critical and commercial top 10 lists, as a lot of them were very good.

However, one game was also on many of those lists – usually high or number one, one that was a labour of love, funded on Kickstarter, and ended up becoming my favourite gaming experience of 2015.

That game is Undertale.

Undertale was a game written mostly by Toby Fox, an accomplished chiptuner who also composed the music. The game is an old school RPG with a similar graphic style to Earthbound and other Super Nintendo games. You play a child who has been dropped into a monster formed underworld. Your job is to escape from the underworld and return home.


Why Is Undertale So Good

The beauty of this game is that your actions lead to a direct response to the game. Not just small changes like in a series such as Mass Effect, but your actions will lead to how your game progresses. It is very, very clever and with a great message behind it. It is very difficult to talk about it, so I won’t, but trust me it is very well done.

The second beautiful thing about the game is the combat system. Turn based combat is loved or hated by many people, but if you are like me you would probably skip through this quickly as possible to return to the selection. This is a dangerous thing in Undertale, as by slowing down and reading, Undertale drops hints as to what to do. Whilst the game has some puzzles, the battles themselves are puzzles and can require creative thinking. As well as a puzzle element, the battles also have some fun bullet hell esque segments that can help you win.

Another beauty of Undertale is that it is so very self assured. It knows it’s a game, and it knows it’s strengths and it’s weaknesses, so it doesn’t take itself very seriously. Could you imagine Call of Duty effectively tell the player where a glitch happens? Or where the graphics aren’t as good? Undertale does, and by doing so it peels away the fourth wall in the most creative way possible. Mix that in with a genuine laugh out loud dialog, a sense that it keeps you on the toes and can unnerve you as well as a cracking soundtrack that borrows from the 8-bit era, and you will understand why it has so many plaudits.


Why Undertale is Important

Undertale did slip underneath the radar, being released on Steam. There was very little in the way of marketing, and it had to be uncovered a bit. In short, it has become the poster child of two movements in gaming.

The first is the Indie Game Movement. Indie games have been getting a lot of coverage over the last few games, and indie games are seen as places that due to the lack of budget as well as the lack of need to be “successful” games can take a few risks and be creative. However, I’ve never seen an indie game take so many risks, and for it to come off so spectacularly.

The other one is that this is a great example of a game that can be viewed as art. Whilst I believe not every game can be viewed as art, this one can be. Art can be commercially successful, but the majority of “commercially successful” art is rather watered down and bland – think of the pictures you buy in Ikea to decorate your living room. Those pictures are your Call of Duty’s, your Fifa’s or your other triple A titles that are released every year. Undertale is your Mona Lisa.

It isn’t perfect – it’s knowingly short and there was a feeling the first time I played that I rushed through it – but it’s cheap, good fun and well worth picking up. Maybe Undertale is one of the most important games out there – a creative slap in the face of an industry that is so bland – but that’s for others to judge. I will confidently say that is a very fun game, and one you will enjoy to complete.

Does Google Need To Make Their WordPress Plugin Better?

I was listening to a recent episode of the excellent WordPress Weekly Podcast of WP Tavern (episode 134), which covered WordCamps.

One thing that piqued my interest was the discussion of the first plugin released by Google in the repository. On it, one of the panelists (I didn’t quite get who) mentioned that it “sucked”. Which is something I actually agree with.

The reason I believe it sucked was that it only did two things: Webmaster Tools verification and allowing to add Google Adsense to your site, both of which had a lot of plugins in the repository. The panelist then went on to discuss the number of other technologies that Google have that are criminally underrated in the WordPress Repository: Google’s two factor authentication (incidentally, I’ve been using Rublon recently, and it’s pretty good), and Schema implementation are both pretty under-represented, surely it would be better if Google focused on one of those plugins?

In two words, probably not.

To play devil’s advocate, I think the reason why Google’s first plugin is Adsense’s focus is that their core business revolves around advertising. It make sense that they become to the go to plugin for people wanting to put Adsense on their site.

Yes I wish it was more advanced and I believe there would be better things for Google to work on for WordPress Sites, but remember Google doesn’t owe you anything, from rankings, to mail client, to even what is in their WordPress plugin.

Such is the beauty of WordPress that the plugin’s open source nature that anybody can take the plugin to make it better (something I’ve been messing around with). So yes: as I recommended at my MWUG Presentation on SEO for WordPress: listen to Google, but question them.

15 Things I’ve Learned In 15 (and a bit) Months of Premium Plugin Development

So it’s just over a year since I launched WP Email Capture Premium. Already it’s been one of the best things I’ve ever done online, providing me with a decent part time income over the last 15 months, as well as opened some pretty big doors for me. Largely through my own personal work I’ve become recognised a lot more as a WordPress developer, which is very nice.

However the last 15 months has been a bit of a learning curve in doing business with my code. There have been highs (the 5 sales in an hour day I had earlier on this year which saw me text a friend absolutely gushing with a grin the size of a Cheshire Cat), and lows. In short, these are the 15 things I’ve learned about WordPress Plugin Development.

1. Aim To Be the Best in The World At One Thing

If you’re getting into Premium Plugin, you will be starting off working on your own, and as such, you are one man or woman. Here’s the thing, you cannot be all things to all men. But you can be the go-to guy for one thing.

Am I going to say that WP Email Capture is the best WordPress Email Marketing Plugin? No, of course not. However I can confidently say that in the past year I have encountered one marketing service it doesn’t integrate with, and I’m spending some of my Christmas holidays making it so. WP Email Capture provides a solution to those who haven’t yet committed to an email marketing solution.

Get your Unique Selling Point, your elevator pitch, and stick to it. It may not come straight away, it may not be you who comes up with it (I found out mine when Jake Caputo was on the WP Candy Podcast), but it will come, and that is what you need to use to promote your plugin.

2. Added Features on Free will always beat Restricted Free

Often I see people make plugins and then remove functionality that was previously free to charge for it. Generally that is a pretty bad thing as you cause mistrust amongst your current, loyal plugin users. Instead I recommend developing features on top of your current plugin.

Often users will suggest ways of improving plugins, so if they come up with ideas for your premium plugin, use them.

3. Customer Service Is Too Important To Outsource

To borrow a phrase used in article shared by Pippin Williamson (which I cannot find): “Customer Support Is Too Important To Outsource ”.

I said to myself would be that I’d provide the best support as I possibly can for my plugin. It shouldn’t fail, but if it does, I’ll be there to fix it.

At first, I hated it, answering a bunch of queries which were largely the same. It was dull, dour and not the best use of my time. And then I wrote a FAQ page and most of the queries were stopped, and then I streamlined the channels so that support would come through a ticketing system if you were a premium subscriber, and the WordPress Support Forum if you were a free user of my plugin. Then it became easier, and the questions I answered got a lot easier and more interesting. I all of a sudden enjoyed providing support, and it began to show as one word answers were now getting longer form answers, as it was important to me to as well fixing the users’ problems, to also explain why they were having this issue. Nobody knew my plugin better than I did.

It showed as well, as people did notice. Often people thank me for timely support and I get emails such as this:-


People were happy with their purchase, and people who weren’t happy with the purchase were happy with the support that made them happy with their purchase, which is great!

4. Success Happens Quietly, Failure Happens in Full View

At the moment, WP Email Capture premium has had just short of 200 sales, with support tickets hovering somewhere around the 80 mark. In short, the majority of my customers I’ve not spoken to. I’ve no idea If they like the plugin or not. I assume they do, as they haven’t taken advantage of the refund offer I have and the open rate of the buyers newsletter (which tells premium users that there is a new version of the plugin available) is over 75%. But beyond that, I know very little.

Incidentally, the first buyers newsletter where I specifically ask for feedback – a “State of the WP Email Capture” – will be sent in the next week or so.

However, success is quite quiet. Failure on the other hand is usually quite open.

Disgruntled users are often quick to complain that a plugin doesn’t do what they think it should, which hurts a bit.

This leads me onto the next point though.

5. Customers are not Clients

This is quite a big one for me.

You see, even though I am thankful for buyers, I’m not completely at their beck and call for them. Would you expect J.K. Rowling to write your wedding invitations because you purchased a Harry Potter book? Not really.

I have suffered some quite hurtful comments when users send over support requests, often due to them not reading documentation or (in one case) choosing to ignore it.

These are customers, and are not clients. I haven’t any contract between them, so often with these people I give a refund. You shouldn’t put up with hours of work, often with little or no reward, for the price of a plugin.

I should point out that 99.99% of customers are wonderful, and you will not have any problems.

And free users? Well I’ve already gone on record with what I think to people who are quite rude when requesting free support. I’ve no problems telling them well to go (and have done so in the last week). I’m not like this with everybody, and am usually quite helpful. But if you don’t treat me with respect then don’t expect me to help you.

6. Problems Working With Clients Are Easy To Deal With When You Have Customers

One of the best things about working with customers over clients is that issues for clients which are disastrous, are actually largely okay with customers.

Take for example the world’s worst form of feedback: “It’s buggy”. If a client came back to you and said that, then all of a sudden it becomes an issue you have to deal with.

However, I had a customer say the plugin was “buggy”. Turns out the WordPress version he was on was on 2.8.1, and my plugin was incompatible. After explaining this and explaining that his version was old, he upgraded and apologised.

7. When Securing Your Social Profiles, Don’t use “Coming Soon”.

Otherwise you end up with this, 15 months after launch……

15 months promotion

8. Get a Good Accountant the Second You Become Moderately Successful

Just trust me on this one.

9. Get Good At Marketing (or outsource it)

WP Email Capture was a remotely successful plugin when I started development on the premium version (20k ish downloads? Around that.) and when I released the plugin I had 2 sales on the first day, and then one sale the day after, and then it slowly died down.

Fact was, I had to start marketing it. Both of those sales days paled in comparison from when I was devoting 100% of my free time on developing and marketing the plugin. An interview on WP Daily (now torquemag) got me 4 sales in 1 day. I know correlation doesn’t mean causation, but it was nice.

In short, nobody cares about your plugin. Participate in the community, think about your audience, and get scribbling. Take every opportunity you can. Some will take off, some won’t (more on that a little later). But you need to be a good marketer, the “build it and they will come” mentality is rather dead, unfortunately.

10. Start Building Your List Yesterday

One of the best ways to market your plugin is by building your list.

If nothing else, even if you have nothing else, have a page on your site dedicated to your plugin, and stick a box on it to encourage signups: Mailchimp is free and good enough, Aweber is good as it’ll kick your arse into finishing the damn thing as you’re paying for it, Mailpoet is awesome if you’re on a dedicated server. Forget any of the top CRO tips out there, releasing a plugin has been the singularly best way to build an email list.

And if you cannot find a system for building your list, just install my plugin and you’ll come back to it later :).

11. Don’t Worry Too Much About Your Blog

WP Email Capture’s blog is rather quiet. In fact, except for plugin updates and a few recent guest posts, it’s rather dead.

I’m looking into improving it with guest posting and maybe just commissioning a few articles, but that is way down the list. By and large though having a quiet blog hasn’t really affected traffic to the site.

Do rudimentary content marketing (i.e. search for your brand name on Google and see what other searches appear, write a blog post about each of those searches), but other than that it’s quite sufficient as is.

12. Nobody Cares About Your Affiliate Programme

This was one of those things that I thought would take off but didn’t. Fact is, you can have generous commission structures, but nobody really cares too much about your affiliate programme. One guy is making a decent amount on the WP Email Capture affiliate programme (~$100/month), and that’s it. I think I’ve had about 20 people sign up for it.

Affiliate programmes, as well as  your actual site, requires work. See if you can get a few people interested, but don’t worry too much about it.

13. Don’t Stop Free Development

One thing I was key on doing is not stopping free development, and it has benefited the plugin in a few ways.

First of all is the nice rush of downloads whenever there is a new version of WP Email Capture released, many of these are old customers updating the plugin, but many are new users. Users can turn into customers.

Secondly by getting new people looking at the plugin in itself can get ideas for added features, this is handy in increasing the value of your plugin. Though what I do is that if anybody suggests a feature, I will aim to make it either freely available or added in such a way that basic functionality is available for free.

14. Competitions are worthless if you’re not running them (or setting the rules a little bit).

One thing I don’t really understand too much but are popular are competitions. You know the score, a website will come to you, and ask if they can run a competition on your behalf. If the competition is “Retweet this for a chance to win!”, what they usually get is the following:-

  • More twitter followers.
  • Twitter retweets and increased exposure.
  • A copy of the plugin (which I am not too bothered with).

And you get is usually nothing. Exposure wise it’s minimal for you (people who enter competitions are not usually buyers), furthermore you don’t even get a link to your site, as the link is usually an affiliate link.

Personally, I’m not a fan, and I’ve never made a sale from a competition.

I’m not saying that competition are a rubbish way to get exposure, but you need to help run it. Make sure one of the entrance conditions is to follow you. A service like Rafflecopter make this quite easy. Alternatively run the competition yourself, and therefore get all the benefit. That will work.

15. Do it! You don’t suck as much as you think!

This is the key thing for me. I’m an okay coder. I’m not great, but can code to decent WordPress standards and my code is usually functional and works well. You are probably similar. Trust me, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.

We Need To Talk About Alan

Alan came into my life about a week or so ago. A message to Retro Garden – my retro gaming blog – landed in my inbox.

Alan’s email came from a generic Gmail address, but seemed to show passion for retro gaming, his avatar of the Psygnosis Owl that also stood him out from other people who are primarily looking for something. Also, something about his message was different to me. He seemingly broke all ten of the “how to pitch to bloggers” tips you see circulating on SEO Marketing Blogs. So I took my chance with him, half expecting an email back with a generic post embedded with links, that wouldn’t fit into my site.

However, Alan’s posts were superb. Well written, long pieces that showed a deep understanding of the genre. They were either fantastically well researched or they were games he played. One thing was noticeably missing from the posts, a link. Alan didn’t want a single bit of accreditation for the post. A bunch of emails back and forth (mainly my guilt trip) established that he was a chiptuner – a sub genre of electronic dance music that uses the original hardware to make tunes, so I linked to some of his work. It’s only polite.

So yes, as many of you who read this post do some sort of blogger outreach, let it be known is this is what you are up against. My blog is decent, though isn’t huge, but still get a fair amount of traffic to it and is one of those sites that gets a fair amount of requests. In fact in the past week this is what I get for Retro Garden (offers that generated a response are starred):-

  • Alan’s email*
  • 3 press releases for various Computer related stuff in the UK.
  • 5 press releases for gambling.
  • 1 Pitch to Alpha Test a PC game on Kickstarter*
  • 10 press releases for gardening equipment.
  • 16 RIMjobs – RIMjobs stands for “Relevant & Informative” Marketing Jobs. Poorly worded guest post pitches that contains the words “relevant & informative”, two words that make me close your guest post pitch quicker than a door on a double glazing salesman.
  • An unsolicited guest post on “When You Should Plant Petunias In Your Garden?” (seriously)
  • A request for a paid placement on the site*

Alan’s post you may think are one offs but it’s not the case, there are plenty of writers, particularly in fun niches, who are just looking to write out there. Often these are more attractive than your pitches.

As such, if you’re pitching to me, that is what you need to stand out from, and many other bloggers are the same. Quite a lot, in all honesty. So how do you do it? Well in short it is adhering to three simple rules.

It’s About Me

The amount of people who pitch their content to me like it the literary bastard child of Harry Potter, The Art of War and The fucking Bible is unbelievable. Also they focus on themselves, or their client, like I should be grateful that I’m being even graced with an email from them.

They then usually use the RIMjob phrase of “relevant and informative” as a way to describe their latest scribbling.

Newsflash for you folks: a “informative and relevant” piece of work is all relative. What you may have slaved over for the morning I may not like. Second newsflash for you: many “informative” blog posts are in fact not going on blogs designed to inform, but rather opinion pieces. Reviews are opinion pieces. I’ve never played more than the first 2 Grand Theft Auto games because I’m not a huge fan of them. I’ve also never played Resident Evil too. That’s not saying they’re bad games, just I’m not a fan of the genre or the game play or whatever. That is just my opinion. Retro Garden is 90% reviews.

I can understand why you are shying away from “opinion pieces”. They are controversial and could land you in hot water with the client. Try and think of offering your opinion rather than just a bland piece, maybe if you can get your client involved. Then, and only then pitch an “informative” piece. Pitch to me with the knowledge Retro Garden I have had probably only one real “informative” guest post, and that was a guy who tore apart a Japanese Super Famicom for a guest post. Unless you’re willing to go to similar lengths (and expense!), then it’s probably not a good idea to pitch an “informative piece” to me.

tl;dr: Read the guidelines, before kissing my arse & telling me it tastes of ice cream. You need to prove to me why I should give you an opportunity. Selling your content like my blog is worse off without it isn’t one of those things. Pitch ideas!

But Don’t Lie or Patronise To Me

This is a big one for me.

Look, I know why you are contacting me. I know why you are after giving me content, but don’t pretend it’s “just a little link”, don’t pretend you “are after editorial exposure”, and – worst of all to me – don’t pretend you’re a woman. I grew out of speaking to pretend women on the internet when Yahoo! Chat folded.

Be honest with me. That’s all. A bare faced liar annoys me. Don’t expect me to do work for free either.

tl;dr: Tell me who you are, tell me what you are offering, tell me what you want.

Make It As Damn Easy As Possible

This is the final thing about me – I’m lazy.

Yes, shock horror! But lazy isn’t a bad thing. Lazy people as pointed out by Bill Gates are the sort of people who find an easy way to do a hard job. I’m of the opinion that I spend 2 hours finding a way to do a 4 hour job in an hour is a good use of time.

As such, when it comes to running my site, I want the maximum results for as little as effort as possible. You may write the greatest analysis of a video game ever, but if I’m chasing you for images and corrections, then I’m unlikely to post it. It’s shocking as well how many times people don’t read the guidelines as well. Often (at least with me) guidelines are laid out on the “write for us” page usually, so if you don’t follow them, then don’t expect me to be very forthcoming with a response.

Final point about this – I’ve a lot of sites, some still going, some dead. Many use the same email address. If you contact me with an email saying “I want to guest post for your site”, at lease name the site as well!

tl;dr: Don’t make me work for your guest post. Trust me, I probably won’t bother.

I may come across as a bit of a dick with this (which is something I admit), but as a site owner, I get frustrated when marketers come to me peddling the same cookie cutter emails (often they are RIMjobs) for responses.

I know this isn’t everybody, and actually I’m quite open to many pitches. Furthermore I’m not the greatest outreacher in the world (there are so many more talented people than me at this!). Please just be honest, explain what you are going to do, work hard and butter my ego. It’s not that difficult, trust me!